Bigot of the Week Award, December 20: Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty (and his defenders)

20 Dec
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Long-time readers will know that I don’t watch much television. My husband and I have a few favorite programs but don’t keep on top of all the big shows. As a result, I barely knew what a Duck Dynasty was, much less who Phil Robertson might be. Sadly, this week he burst painfully into my consciousness, using his questionable celebrity to spew bigotry. In an interview with GQ, Robertson felt the need to wax homophobic at length.

Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.

He then misquoted the Bible to substantiate his position. Just for fun, he also spent some time discussing anatomy. What hatred, ignorance, bile, and bigotry! What a sad abuse of power, especially power afforded on such a flimsy footing.

To their credit, A&E — the network that airs Duck Dynasty — has suspended Robertson indefinitely observing that:

His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.

While that was the right thing to do, I wonder does it address reparative justice?  And sadly, A&E continues to profit from the series in syndication. Even more regrettable,  Robertson immediately fell back on the faith defense, basically blaming Jesus for his ugly words and then saying:

I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me.

I’m afraid the ship has sailed on that one, Mr. Duck. Robertson should also take a careful look at the people who have stood up to defend him. Failed candidate, half-term governor, and perpetual pseudo-celebrity Sarah Palin and perpetual hypocrite Gov. Bobby Jindal both rushed to his defense, calling his suspension and outrage.

Both Palin and Jindal call it a violation of his First Amendment right of free speech, thus also demonstrating their fundamental misunderstanding of the law. As with Juan Williams and so many others, Robertson has the right to speak. A&E, as his employer, has the right to say that those words aren’t appropriate and to take action. Sponsors have the right to withdraw their sponsorship. Viewers have the right to turn off the TV. Actions have consequences, even legally protected actions.

As a gay man, I have to suspect that racism and misogyny are probably also issues that our Mr. Robertson is mired in along with his homophobia. I wonder what it would have been like for A&E to have addressed this problem directly on the show and then talked about reparative justice? What would it be like for Robertson to have to travel the country and witness how the LGBTQ population is targeted and how the LGBTQ population of color is targeted even further? What concerns me most is that here in 2013 we have further evidence of just how far we have yet to go around eradicating homophobia, racism, misogyny, and poverty.  Of course, this Duck Dynasty does not have to worry about poverty, for they have been wealthy stars because of “reality tv.”

Call For Nominations:

Yes, it is that time of year again. Here is the official call for nominations for 2013′s Bigot of the Year Award and Hero of the Year Award. Please submit your nominations now.

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37 Responses to “Bigot of the Week Award, December 20: Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty (and his defenders)”

  1. katybrandes December 20, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    Thanks for addressing this latest case of homophobia splattered all over television to the masses that unfortunately circled the small-minded wagons this week to protect this dude. It makes me sad whenever people use their “faith” to downgrade others in the name of God and perpetuate every redneck stereotype along the way. All country people are not, to use a colloquialism, as backwards-ass as some more notable ones make them seem. It’s also hurtful to watch someone with as much rural influence as Robertson pray at their dinner table on his show and then act in such a manner for a magazine interview. Doubly so that now the family remains so staunch in his defense. They’re definitely not emulating Jesus.
    “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” Gandhi

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 7:06 am #

      Katy, thank you for always being such a strong ally to the LGBTQ community! I love your comment here and I especially LOVE the Gandhi quote here!

      • katybrandes December 20, 2013 at 8:33 am #

        I finally read the article and am equally horrified, and even more so as a woman, to read about his past.

        Buried on page two of the GQ article, it says, “During Phil’s darkest days, in the early 1970s, he had to flee the state of Arkansas after he badly beat up a bar owner and the guy’s wife.”

        I know everyone makes mistakes, but damn …

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 8:35 am #

        Katy, thank you for adding to this! Yes, we all make mistakes and I would hope each of us is capable of a transformative experience, as bell hooks talks about. Sadly, Robertson does not seem to have achieved a transformative experience since this incident in the 1970s. Perhaps this most recent homophobic and racist rant will be the impetus for him to do some reflection and some repair.

  2. Phil December 20, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Very nice observations, Michael. I agree that A&E took the appropriate but short road. I also find it fascinating that so little attention is being paid to Robertson’s horrifically racist comments in the same interview. Addressing Jim Crow, he uses the “I was there and they seemed fine to me” argument.
    For example, “The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. … They’re singing and happy. … They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
    Defending Robertson’s homophobia is bad enough, but so-called values organizations ignoring these comments is reprehensible. That a Southern Governor like Jindal would turn a blind eye to such blatant racism is especially horrific.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 7:48 am #

      Phil, thank you so very much for commenting here! Yes, the racism is palpable and yet it is not being addressed and I have to wonder why? Sadly, I think we all know that Jindal is blind to any type of human rights.

  3. Central Oregon Coast NOW December 20, 2013 at 8:01 am #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      Nancy, thank you for reflagging this article. It hurts my heart to see such racist homophobes gaining such notoriety.

      • Central Oregon Coast NOW December 20, 2013 at 8:16 am #

        I just checked Duck Dynasty out on Wikipedia (my unreliable source for almost everything), and I really am in the dark! I’ve never seen or even heard of the show before the last couple of days! After reading the show’s description I understand even less why anybody would want to watch it. Maybe I will just stay happily in the Dark Ages.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 8:18 am #

        Nancy, I have never seen the show, but sadly did see the interview. Yes, on this one I would advise you to stay in the dark ages. There is no need in subjecting yourself to such negative energy.

      • Central Oregon Coast NOW December 20, 2013 at 8:23 am #

        Will gladly take your advice! It seems I know more and more people who are canceling their TV service because of the “dribble” that is on it nowadays. I’m getting closer and closer to joining them!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 8:24 am #

        Nancy, I wish you lived closer! I would so love it if you could be in our book club.

      • Central Oregon Coast NOW December 20, 2013 at 8:43 am #

        Let me know what you are reading! I may join it “vicariously”. Our local NOW chapter is starting a book club – the slant will be on feminist books, and we will, at least at first, only read 3 or 4 books a year as a group. Should be interesting though. I actually have belonged to the same book club in Portland for over 15 years; unfortunately, I am making less and less of the meetings. Just too far to drive.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 8:45 am #

        I just wish you could move here to Portland, selfish of me! We just finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern. I think you would enjoy it. It is a good read.

      • Central Oregon Coast NOW December 20, 2013 at 9:05 am #

        Just downloaded The Night Circus to my computer and am looking forward to reading it. Right now I am reading a collection of short stories by Alice Munro. I had never read anything by her and when it was announced that she had been awarded The Novel Prize for Literature for 2013 (and that she had been awarded The Booker Award in 2012) I decided it was about time I gave her a try. I’m glad I did! I don’t read short stories often, but really enjoy them. She is a wonderful writer.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

        Nancy, thank you. I shall have to go to Powell’s and look for some Alice Munro.

  4. Nancy Campbell Mead December 20, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    Now I have to go and find out who/what Duck Dynasty is! I’ve heard (in the background) them mentioned and something about Sarah Palin, but that’s it! Sometimes being busy and not watching hardly any TV is a blessing! When I think of “Duck Dynasty” I think of the Oregon Ducks! Thank you Michael, for bringing me into the 21st Century of pop culture once in awhile.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 8:17 am #

      Nancy, YES! Not watching television is a blessing! I have to laugh out loud, for you are the first person to say I am in the 21st Century–thank you! I feel so very young and hip today! :)

  5. Steve December 20, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Oh, Michael! I am so sorry for anyone and everyone who is aware of what’s been said. So sorry for the pain caused (needlessly!) to so many for so many reasons and on so many levels. Ugh. I believe he’ll have to win the prize for timing and impact. Sadly.

    You wrote helpfully…yet again! Now, look away from The Phil and back to the Christmas decorations! :-) Ho…ho…ho…! All the best for 2014…

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

      Steve, thank you for being such a strong ally and voice for social justice. I hope you have a wonderful holiday! :)

      • Steve December 20, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

        You were my early Christmas gift this year. Having you as part of my life — even just here in Cyberland! — has been so helpful. Thanks for being a source of great encouragement and help. I’m grateful, Michael! :-)

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

        Steve, that is very kind of you, dear heat. I would point out that you and the other folk that contribute to this blog are the real gift as we work in solidarity to make the world a better place for all people. Humbly grateful, Michael.

  6. Xena December 20, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    Not being a television person, I had not heard of Duck Dynasty until this week. People can have opinions, but when their opinions advocated hate, it is wrong.

    I had thought of A&E as a network of “art” but then, Animal Planet is not what it used to be either.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      Xena, sadly, A&E are no different than any other entrainment network. The primary concern is money, of which they are making quite a bit from bigoted people like Roberts.

  7. Dr. Rex December 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    Well said!! I didn’t know details about them either … but know I see his sorry face all over!! He’s getting more mileage out of this than his miserable, backwards show … it’s bothering me to no end.
    Can’t believe that so many Americans are standing up for this trash …. well, while countries criminalize homosexuality. Guess he fits right in!! SMH …

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

      Dr. Rex, yes it is awful how much attention and celebrity his is gaining from this. I am reflecting now if I should not have given him any attention, but I’m hoping people will take action and stop watching the show and send a message that racism and homophobia are not things to create a celebrity.

      • Dr. Rex December 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

        I think the same. But I can ‘t get away from it. I can’t stay quiet! I see “the other side” talking so much & defending that I can’t believe it. Where are the values, the ethics, the right thing? I can’t believe it … where is America? In the gutter, right with the ducks!!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

        The defense of Roberts shows us just how much work has yet to be done regarding human rights and who has privilege and who is oppressed.

      • Dr. Rex December 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

        Right on target!!

  8. Dr. Rex December 20, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    I have no words ….. I can’t understand why so many are standing up for this fool!! Bigotry, hated, potential damage to homosexuals …. remember Matthew?? And so many un-named ones!! SMH ….

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Thank you for reflagging this, Dr. Rex. Let us hope he and A&E will do some repair work now.

      • Dr. Rex December 20, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

        hoping …. Not expecting much! Betcha he will b back on the air soon :-(

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

        Sadly, I fear you may be right!

  9. Will S. December 22, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    Having seen only previews for “Duck Dynasty,” I still feel pretty comfortable assuming that folks who talk and act like the stars of this program would be so homophobic. Maybe that’s my own bias against ignorant, backwoods rednecks.

    It also never ceases to amaze me how someone can use the same book of the bible that bans eating cheeseburgers and working on Sundays to justify their bigotry. Somehow, some way, they manage to overlook the hundreds of dietary restrictions, and focus only on the parts that don’t affect them.

    Which, I think, is why homophobia comes so easy to people like Robertson. It’s easy to hate people for something that you aren’t (and ostensibly can’t be) affected by. There’s zero inconvenience in it for them.

    And as far as bigot and hero of the year awards, may I nominate…

    Bigot of the Year: The US Supreme Court, for gutting the Voting Rights Act and ushering in a new era of Jim Crow and discriminatory voting laws.

    Hero of the Year: Got to be a tie between Cory Booker, for his response to accusations that he is gay (I love that he didn’t get all defensive over it, but instead said essentially “Maybe I am, and maybe I’m not. But that shouldn’t affect how you vote”), and Jason Collins. I’m still in awe of the guts it took for Collins to come out, while active as a pro athlete.

    Cheers and kudos to you, Michael, for continuing your great work here. Hope you and yours have a fantastic Holiday!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 23, 2013 at 7:12 am #

      Will, thank you for consistently being such a wonderful ally to the LGBTQ community and to all targeted communities. You certainly got it spot on with your observation around how people use the bible with a “focus only on the parts that don’t affect them.”

      Thank you for your nominations. Yes, “The US Supreme Court, for gutting the Voting Rights Act and ushering in a new era of Jim Crow and discriminatory voting laws,” has made the top ten from several emails I have received. I love that you have nominated Cory Booker.

      I hope you and yours have a wonderful Holiday Season! Thank you for your voice for social justice!

  10. Phil December 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    Very nice analysis of this disgusting situation, Michael, thank you. It took me awhile to comment – sharing a name with this toxic slimeball makes me very sad. :)
    By the way, have you seen the before and after pix of the Duck family? Their total reinvention for the sake of fleeting fame makes even the Kardashians look classy. Ick.

    As for annual honors, here are my thoughts, for what they are worth:
    Bigot of the Year – Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. Want to be a 21st Century world power? Quit acting like it’s the 17th Century.
    Dishonorable mention to the GOP in Congress, especially Ted Cruz (gloryhound) and Rand Paul (shallow faker).
    Hero of the year was more difficult. Heroes get so much less attention these days. Sen. Elizabeth Warren for being perpetually awesome? Sen. Harry Reid for finally leading? Pope Francis for dragging the Catholic Church back toward Christian charity and humility? Maybe…
    In the end, I looked through the news and landed on Antoinette Tuff, the woman who helped avert major tragedy in the Decatur school showdown this year. An (extra)ordinary woman doing her best and making the world better. That’s a hero.

    Thanks for all you do. Here’s to a wonderful 2014.
    Phil

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 30, 2013 at 7:29 am #

      Phil,

      Thank you for your comments! Thank you for including the link to the before and after pictures of this awful family! Wow! They really are just money whores. I hope everyone will click through to the link you provided.

      Thank you also for the nominations!

      I hope 2014 will be a splendid year for us all. Thank you.
      Michael

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